Gove knows not what he does

Wednesday 20th March 2013

cpt Emma Bradshawcpt Emma Bradshaw

Everyone who cares for the natural environment is being urged to call on the Government to ensure children are taught about its true value.

Concerned by proposed changes to the national curriculum, which could see children not being taught about protecting the natural environment, The Wildlife Trusts are today urging people to respond to the Government’s consultation on The Reform of the National Curriculum in England, which runs until Tuesday 16 April.

A younger generation equipped to understand and tackle the massive environmental problems we have left them is our only hope for the future

Current proposals in the draft new curriculum quietly drop any reference to English school children being required to be taught ‘to care for the environment’ or ‘ways in which living things and the environment need protection’.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that, if adopted, Government proposals could seriously undermine the understanding that young people have of their dependence on nature. They could also affect society’s future ability to function in harmony with the natural environment, on which it ultimately depends.

People are becoming more removed from nature in their daily lives.  Levels of awareness, knowledge and understanding about nature and our relationship to it are declining.  As a result, the need for children to be taught about the importance of the natural world and our duty to protect it is greater now than it has ever been.

More than 162,000 pupils from 4,400 schools in England visited Wildlife Trusts in 2012 with over 120,000 getting involved in outreach work.  One field trip or a few lessons in the school grounds can change a child’s perspective for ever; but our society must do much, much more.

President of The Wildlife Trusts, Simon King OBE, today presses The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, to:
• Reinstate teaching about protecting the natural environment into the curriculum
• introduce more education about the natural environment in schools

Simon King writes: “I can hardly believe that anyone would want to make changes to the curriculum that could lead to large-scale human suffering and damage the rest of life on earth. Yet Michael Gove proposes to stop teaching children to care for the environment.

“A younger generation equipped to understand and tackle the massive environmental problems we have left them is our only hope for the future. We urge Mr Gove to drop these ill-considered and dangerous proposals, to introduce more education about the natural environment in schools and do some intensive training in ecology with his local Wildlife Trust.”

Have your say

Focus on Question 3 in the Government consultation

We are encouraging people who want to ensure children are taught about the value of the natural environment to respond to the online consultation from the Department for Education on the proposed changes:

  • The consultation on a revised national curriculum was launched by the Department for Education on Thursday 7 February 2013.  It closes on Tuesday 16 April 2013.
     
  • Responses can be made on the Department for Education website: consulations section
      
  • The key question to answer is question 3, which is regarding the content of the new curriculum.

As Simon King said in his letter to the Telegraph, it is important that children get more education about the natural environment, not less. The Government proposals could seriously undermine the understanding that young people have of their dependence on nature. They could also affect society’s future ability to function in harmony with the natural environment, on which it ultimately depends.

Petitions:

 


Notes for editors:

Changes to the National Curriculum
The new curriculum is considerably shorter than the existing one, and is therefore inevitably less detailed.  However, looking at a comparison of the current curriculum to the consultation document, it is clear there are fewer references to changes in the environment caused by humans, and references to caring for and managing the environment have also been removed.

The Reform of the National Curriculum in England
The Government launched a review of the National Curriculum in January 2011 with the aim of “ensuring that the aspirations we set for our children match those in the highest-performing education jurisdictions, and giving teachers greater freedom over how to teach”.  The proposals, on which the Department for Education is consulting, represent the outcomes of that review.  This consultation is being conducted under section 96 of the Education Act 2002

The Wildlife Trusts’ engagement with young people
In 2012, 4,400 schools engaged with Wildlife Trusts in England.  More than 120,000 students got involved in outreach work and more than 162,000 pupils made school visits to Wildlife Trusts.  There are 140,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch in England.

The Wildlife Trusts’ teams support and enhance learning in thousands of schools each year. We have accessible and inspiring locations, experienced dedicated staff and great community links. Our excellent track record is one of providing inspirational, effective learning experiences for schools’ staff and pupils at every level and across a huge range of subjects. The Wildlife Trusts have been welcoming school parties onto our nature reserves for more than 50 years!

The nature and extent of Trusts’ work supporting formal sector learning is decided locally. Examples of the type of work carried out by Wildlife Trusts includes improving school grounds for wildlife, guided visits to nature reserves, providing resources for educators, Forest Schools, school membership schemes, visits to schools and more. You can see more at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/learning

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK, of which 37 are in England. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members, 740,000 of which are in England. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.

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Tagged with: Outdoor learning